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Functionalism in Family

Categories: Family

It wasn’t until I was eight years old that I was finally adopted. My adopted family, who I consider to be my real family, taught me a lot. They help shape and mold me into the person that I am today. According to our class textbook, “the family, in its many varying forms, is present in all human cultures” (Schaefer, pg. 306). The family is impacted by all three sociological theories. In my paper I will discuss the impact that all three of the theories.

Functionalism, Conflict and Interactionism, have on the social institution of family.

I believe that the social institution of family is what makes us who we are. It helps to form our personality and our lives when we become adults. My family taught me how to make moral decisions in my life, how to become an independent individual in society and how to manage a family of my own. I pretty much do not follow one exact theory.

I agree with many of the different aspects of all three theories. The first theory I will discuss will be the Functionalist theory. As outlined by William F. Ogburn, the family is meant to perform six paramount functions as follows: * Reproduction Protection * Socialization * Regulation of sexual behavior * Affection and Companionship * Provision of Social Status I agree with Ogburn on many of these functions. I think that the family teaches you companionship and how to form an affectionate relationship with someone. I also agree tone of the main functions of a family is Reproduction.

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God says in the Bible that we are to be fruitful. It is our duty to reproduce to make more beings on earth. My family also serves as a security blanket for me.

I know when all else fails my family will always be there for me and take me back with no questions asked. The functionalist theory affects the views of an individual in a family in many ways. To me it makes them a more stable person, with more traditional views. Functionalism does not leave too much room for social change within a family. Usually units of a family have a set of beliefs that they were raised on and consider the norm for them. TO stray from this would be abnormal and not right. Functionalism was a strong belief years ago when things were more traditional. This was just the way of life.

This theory to me would be one of the main reasons why many people are against things such as gay marriage, unmarried couples having babies and shacking up and unwed mothers. On the other side of the spectrum we have the Conflict theorists. “Conflict theorists view the family not as a contributor to social stability, but as a reflection of the inequality in wealth and power that is found within the larger society” (Schaefer, pg. 292). Although I do agree with many of the aspects of the Functionalist theory, I agree with some of the points that the Conflict theory makes as well.

I know for a fact when I was a child, my brother got away with murder. There were things that I couldn’t do that my brother could do because he was a boy. I had a friend who parents wouldn’t allow her to go anywhere, she had to go to High School down the block from her home, she couldn’t go to the mall until she was 18, and she was forced to go to college near home. Going away to college was a no- no for her as far as her parents were concerned. However, her younger brother went to a High School way across town from their house, he was hanging out at the age of 13, and he went away to college hours from their house.

Many families in many cultures tend to be male chauvinistic, and bring out about inequality between the sexes. This was the way of life in the United States at a time. The man was the one who went out and worked and brought home the bacon. There were things that a man could do that woman couldn’t. The man was the sole provider and the authoritarian. Nowadays, women have just as much say so as men do. I have much power and authority in my family. My kids consider me and their stepdad to be equals. We make decisions and compromises on many things such as the bills, household needs and the children.

Although there has been great change in this shift of power from man to woman in a family, there are still some situations where things have not change as much. Studies have shown that “for every stay-at-home dad there are 38 stay at home moms” (Schaefer, pg. 292). The conflict theory affects the views of individuals in a family because the man a sense of power and authority. It makes the women out to be subservient to her husband or to man period. It lends to situations such as Domestic Violence. I came across an article by Kathryn Yount and LiLi, it discusses Egyptian women’s justification of Domestic Violence. In a study done, “5,450 women in Egypt, they found that one half justified wife hitting or beating for some reason” (Yount, 2009). It is the conflict theory that leads many women to believe and justify Domestic Violence. There is little change for social change with the conflict theory. As described in our textbook, “conflict theorists also view the family as an economic unit that contributes to social injustice” (Schaefer, pg. 292). Society view women as subservient and believe their role to be that of a woman in the kitchen cooking, barefoot and pregnant. Last but not least we have the Interactionalist theory.

Unlike the conflict and the functional theory, this theory observes the relationship between individuals in the family and how they interact with one another. “In a study of both black and white two=parent households, researchers found that when fathers are more involved with their children (reading to them, helping them with their homework, or restricting their television viewing), the children have fewer behavior problems, get along better with others and are more responsible (Schaefer, pg. 293) The relationship between family members can determine the outcome of one’s behavior.

This theory provides a lot of knowledge on fixing problems in a family. My son was acting up in school and I could not figure what his problem was. When my fiancee and I became more involved with him and his work, having join Boy Scouts, and talking to him one on one, his behavior changed. I received less and less calls from his teacher about him acting up in school. In family matters: the importance of mattering to a family in adolescence, Gregory Elliott, “demonstrated that the lack of mattering in one’s family contributes to the degree of connectedness one feels to the social order (Churchill, 2010).

Relationships between family members matter a lot. I have a friend who had a horrible relationship with her mother. In turns she had a bad relationship with her daughter, and her daughter has a bad relationship with her daughter. Tough love was a major problem in their situation. The Interactionist has the greatest affect on family member’s views. It makes one more open-minded and understanding. It leaves plenty of room for social change within a family. By studying the relationships between family members we will be able to substantiate behaviors and why certain things happen.

Society will in turn change their views on family life and accept change and different forms of families. Many people find it strange that it doesn’t matter to me that my kids biological farther refuses to pay child support and I still want him to see his kids as much as possible. I came across a study done by Yoshi Sano, Leslie Richards and Anisa Z’vonkovis in the Journal of Family Issues. I found that “Contrary to some father’s claims that mothers gate keep their access to children, the majority of mothers in the study just wanted increased father involvement.

The mother’s desire for active father child interaction was not dampened by their frustration at the lack or irregularity of child support payment, which mothers tended to accept given the lack of economic opportunities in rural communities” (Sano, Richards, et. al, 2008). I believe that out of all three theories interactionism teaches one the most and has the greatest impact on family. We can learn from our interactions with one another and others as well. Functionalism is different from all three because it just basically believes that the family has basic functions.

It doesn’t go on any evidence or studies. The Conflict theory believes that family brings about conflict. Its sole purpose is to cause inequality between the sexes. The social institution of family is affected by all three of the theories. I feel that and truly believe that it would benefit best form the interactionist theory. This can be backed up by studies and research. It will help to make society more understanding. References Churchill, C. (2010, February). Family matters: the importance to family in adolescence. Choice, 47(6), 1168.

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Functionalism in Family. (2018, Sep 03). Retrieved from

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